Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- If the young man is able to work, or if his family is willing to support him at the beginning, we see nothing wrong in accepting his proposal if everything else about him is OK.
2- Or you could accept his proposal but postpone the actual marriage until he graduates and finds a job. The important thing is that he be physically able and willing to work, even if he finds a job that is not related to his field of study.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
The main criteria for choosing a partner should be religion and character; however, if other criteria such as wealth, family, and beauty are found together with religion there is no harm in going for them as well.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘If a person with acceptable religion and character appears for proposing marriage, marry him, otherwise it may lead to sedition and widespread corruption in the land.’ (At-Tirmidhi)
Based on this hadith, religion and character take precedence in selection. The hadith that you have cited does not negate this. It has been interpreted in one of two ways: 1) in the sense you have indicated, meaning ability to maintain and support a family; 2) the physical desire for union.
Both of these are valid considerations in marriage, but lack of the first one is not definitely something to compel one to reject a partner if a person has the ability to work for a livelihood. Many of the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) fell in this category, and yet they got married because, although they did not have wealth in their own hands at the time of marriage, they had the ability to work and earn a living.
Therefore, some scholars have interpreted this hadith in the following sense: if somebody has the ability to work and earn a living.
In conclusion, it is up to you to accept this person because in my mind, based on what you have said, he fulfils the primary criterion and he is also potentially capable of supporting you. So make istikharah and decide for yourself, Allah will guide you in making the right decision.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.